As the poultry industry has become ever more globally interconnected, the stakes of keeping birds healthy and producers competitive have grown higher than ever. As a result, the feed additives industry which serves those producers must remain on the cutting edge of science, arming their customers with the tools needed to stay ahead of new diseases and squeeze greater amounts of productivity from inputs.
It is a mission that Italy’s Vetagro takes quite seriously. In today’s Industry Perspectives piece, we hear from Chad H. Stahl, Head of Global Sales and Strategy, about the challenges the company sees for the poultry market, and how it is putting values such transparency and innovation into action to help the industry meet those challenges.
[Feedinfo] Can you start by giving an overview of how important the poultry industry is for Vetagro?
[Chad H. Stahl] Supporting the poultry industry is, and has been, pivotal to our company’s success. Based on our expectations for global trends in agriculture, we have dedicated substantial efforts in research and development to help support the industry. We were a pioneer in obtaining approval for a botanical-based product to be used as a zootechnical feed additive in the EU over 12 years ago, and since then we have continued to invest in research and development to bring novel solutions to the poultry industry worldwide.
[Feedinfo] What major challenges has the company faced over the years in the poultry additives market?
[Chad H. Stahl] It has been an incredibly dynamic marketplace and being able to appropriately forecast the future needs of producers has required a tremendous amount of dedication from our Research and Development team. Balancing research efforts to address current issues versus anticipating future needs for the industry has always been a challenge, but we are proud of the progress we have made in providing real-time solutions as well as being prepared for what’s ahead.
[Feedinfo] What kinds of trends do you foresee being important for the poultry industry going forward? How are you preparing to help this sector meet the challenges of tomorrow?
[Chad H. Stahl] We have made and continue to make substantial investments in basic poultry science that we feel will help the industry in the future. Many of these research investments have been to elucidate the basic biology of host-pathogen interactions as well as to develop tools to help bring solutions to the market faster. We foresee greater scientific scrutiny of feed additives and expect that the industry will increasingly demand a greater understanding of the mode of action of feed additives.
Additionally, I anticipate that the industry will continue to make even greater efforts to address animal and environmental health in a holistic manner. Many of these “one health” issues intersect with gastrointestinal health, and our development of intestinal cell and organoid culture systems have allowed us to test and develop solutions in a more rapid manner. We feel that being able to rapidly address emerging needs of the industry will be crucial, and that developing technology that helps us do so is critical to our success.
[Feedinfo] What is your outlook/forecast for the chicken additives industry in the coming years?
[Chad H. Stahl] Vetagro believes that there will be increasing reliance on the additive industry to help both predict and solve problems for the industry. We anticipate greater partnerships between the additive industry, academia and producers in the areas of new product development. The challenges facing the poultry industry are only going to become more complex and will require diverse teams to help address them.
More broadly, Vetagro realizes that both the industry and our understanding of the biological systems that underpin its sustainability are constantly evolving. We envision that greater scientific collaborations between producers, the feed additive industry and academia will be essential to maintaining the sustainability of the poultry industry. Vetagro’s overarching belief is that not only must we pursue important scientific questions to address the industry’s needs, but we must also be transparent with what we discover for the overall benefit of the industry.
[Feedinfo] One of Vetagro’s latest new product launches into the poultry market was Avipower®2. What can you tell us about this product, and how does it represent the best of what Vetagro can offer the poultry industry?
[Chad H. Stahl] Vetagro’s latest poultry product line is AviPower®2. This line of products has been developed to address specific health challenges using state-of-the-art avian cell culture and organoid systems. With these in vitro tools, we were able to rapidly screen an enormous library of botanical compounds to find solutions to multiple health problems in poultry. Our first product launched in this line, AviPower®2, is a botanical strategy with an anticoccidial-like effect with exceptionally broad-spectrum activity. Our research team targeted the stage of the coccidia life cycle that is most conserved among all coccidian parasites to develop a botanical-based product with efficacy against a broad range of coccidia. Customer feedback to date has been wonderful and is helping us to inform recommendations for its use in multiple strategies, including use with vaccines as well as in programs with traditional anti-coccidials.
[Feedinfo] You have previously told Feedinfo that values like innovation and transparency were at the heart of Vetagro. Can you give an example of how your poultry industry partners have benefitted from Vetagro’s commitment to these values?
[Chad H. Stahl] Vetagro prides itself on both its innovation and its transparency. When our research team discovers novel biological information or creates and validates useful research tools for the development of solutions to help the industry, we have made this information publicly available through multiple peer-reviewed publications, rather than keeping it as proprietary knowledge. We feel that this has helped us form meaningful partnerships with both the industry and academia, that allow us to accelerate the implementation of solutions for the poultry industry.
One of our most recent examples of this is work that was published in Poultry Science last year (Ghiselli et al., 2023). Our research team had worked tirelessly to develop a cost-effective model to be able to study host-pathogen interactions of poultry, in vitro. We developed and validated a line of immortalized chicken intestinal epithelium cells with wide implications for food safety and animal health research. We immediately published this work, to make our findings publicly available so that the entire scientific community could benefit from our discoveries. While we are aware that this level of transparency also significantly benefits our competitors in the feed additive industry, we feel that the stronger our competition is, the better the solutions that we provide to the industry will be.
[Feedinfo] What are the main strategic goals for the coming year – both for your activities in the poultry sector, and for the group as a whole? What should the industry be expecting from you in 2024?
[Chad H. Stahl] We hope to better showcase our innovations, both to the poultry sector and across the other animal agriculture sectors, and to better engage our stakeholders to inform the direction of our research and development team. Vetagro expects that our industry partners will realize substantial financial benefits through our interactions and will also benefit from the global knowledge network that we have created between industry and academia.
Published in association with Vetagro